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What Should the Status of Puerto Rico Be?
Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean Sea. Puerto Rico has been a
Commonwealth under the United States since July 25, 1952 when Governor
Mu os proclaimed the new constitution. In the election of 1968, Governor
Ferr favored statehood for Puerto Rico. After his election there were many
unsuccessful attempts to make Puerto Rico into the 51st state. After more
than 30 years the question still stands. What should the status of Puerto
Rico be? There are three options for the status of Puerto Rico ( Puerto
One option for the status of Puerto Rico is to become the 51st state of
the United States of America. A lot of people disagree with this option.
Since currently Puerto Rico doesn t pay taxes and sixty percent of Puerto
Rico s citizens are classified as living at poverty, and then U.S. taxpayers
or employed citizens are worried that if Puerto Rico becomes a state that
their taxes will increase dramatically (Hamill 26). Already forty percent of
the people on the island get federal benefits (Buchanan 35). The
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico already costs mainland U.S. taxpayers over
$6 billion dollars each year. The state of Puerto Rico could cost residents of
the other fifty states far more.
Another option is to remain a Commonwealth. Puerto Rico, after
being in Commonwealth for 32 years, still can t make the decision of
become a state or taking care of its own self and becoming an independent
nation. Governor Pedro Rossello pleaded with Puerto Rican citizens to vote
for a final decision. Forty eight percent of the citizens voted to retain the
commonwealth status, forty six percent chose statehood and four chose
independence ( Puerto Rico, See graph on page 4). The majority of
Puerto Rican citizens want Puerto Rico to remain in Commonwealth, but
the government ignored the peoples voices. One of the reasons why Puerto
Rico has remained a commonwealth for so long is of the language barrier
between Puerto Rico and the United States. Puerto Rico has never declared
which official language it would use permanently. The official language
was Spanish in the late 1800s. Then it was changed to English in the early
1900s. In 1902 Puerto Rico made both Spanish and English their official
languages. In 1990 a member of Puerto Rico s Popular Democratic Party
introduced a bill which would declare Spanish to be the sole official
language of Puerto Rico. The chairman of People For the American Way
Action Fund told the Senate Subcommittee on July 14, 1989 that 98% of the
population speaks Spanish and 20% are fluent in English (Puerto Rico &
Statehood…). Puerto Rico has no representation because they don t pay
taxes, but if they become a state then how are they going to get their voices
heard if only 20% of them speak fluent English. Most Puerto Ricans want
to remain a Commonwealth because they say that if the island is good
enough the way it is now, then there is no reason to change.
The third option is to become an independent nation. Other
independent nations have done well after the U.S. has given them a financial
boost. Honduras and Panama are examples of countries that the United
States has given money to improve their status. The most ideal example is
the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is similar to Puerto Rico
in climate, topography, location, what they import and export. In the mid
1800s the United States helped the Dominican Republic by building their
status up after a civil war. Now the Dominican Republic is the leading
country in the Caribbean Sea. That s why a lot of experts say that there will
be no major difference if Puerto Rico dropped the commonwealth and
became an independent nation except for the money issue. Political leaders
say that if the Dominican Republic could meet its needs how can t Puerto
Rico do it if they make more money than the Dominican Republic
In conclusion there are three options for the status of Puerto Rico.
One of them is for Puerto Rico to become a state. Second, is for Puerto
Rico to remain in Commonwealth under the United States. Last, is for
Puerto Rico to become an independent nation since the beginning of the last
century. If Puerto Rico becomes a state then there would probably be a rise
in taxes because approximately 60% of Puerto Ricans are considered
poverty. 1990 census data shows that if Puerto Rico becomes a state it will
outrank 26 other states in population size, entitling it to as many as seven
Congressman as well as two Senators (Puerto Rico & Statehood…). If
Puerto Rico remains in Commonwealth, the only problem is the taxpayers
would be paying the financial problems of another nation. If Puerto Rico
becomes an independent nation then they will finally be known as being
independent since almost 100 years.
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